There are some recipes that you can easily find information on when you find that you are in the mood to make something. There are other recipes that are passed down from generation to generation, carrying tradition and family secrets all the way through.
More often than not, the recipes that are made from family tradition are often much more loosely defined and have a lot fewer restrictions on what makes the recipe “perfect.”
One such recipe that falls into this category is the famous jambalaya dish. Jambalaya is a Cajun dish that typically consists of rice, shrimp, chicken, and a variety of vegetables.
Beyond that, the specifics of the dish are completely to taste and to tradition. Some people pass down recipes of dry jambalaya, while others might prefer a thicker dish.
Because there are so many variants of jambalaya that one can make, it can be hard to find a set of hard and fast rules to rely on to make the jambalaya turn out exactly the way you want it to.
More often than not, you are going to be relying on trial and error to find the perfect jambalaya recipe for you.
Unfortunately, because of the way trial and error often works, this may result in jambalaya that is less than satisfactory. It could be that the seasonings aren’t quite right, or it could be that the jambalaya is too watery for your tastes.
No matter what the problem is, you will surely be able to find a solution that works for you.
Determining the Consistency of Jambalaya
First things first, to try and thicken the jambalaya to your preference, you will want to understand what can create a thin and watery jambalaya.
Typically, what makes a jambalaya watery is about as simple as it can get. It is usually caused by you adding too much water into the dish and then not allowing the water to cook away from there.
In some cases, it could also be caused by using poor tomato sauce. While there are many kinds of tomato sauce, if you choose to use a thinner variety, then there’s a good chance that the jambalaya as a whole will be thin and watery as well.
With this being said, there are still a number of other situations that can lead to you having a watery, thin jambalaya, but these are two of the most common reasons why your jambalaya isn’t turning out the way you want it to.
Finding What You Need
There are a few ways that you can go about fixing your jambalaya, depending on what exactly went wrong in the cooking process.
For most situations, you can get away with simply fixing the sauce of the jambalaya, as this will be the source of the problem. This solution will work for jambalaya that has already been cooked and turned out too thin, this process will not work to start jambalaya out with.
With that in mind, you will want to begin getting the ingredients that you need to fix the problem. You will want to have a bowl that can hold at least two quarts and a crockpot (a stockpot will also work) that can hold at least six quarts. After this, you will want to find a whisk and a large spoon.
From here, you will want to start getting the ingredients that you will be using to fix the jambalaya and thicken it up.
If you are working with two quarts of cooked jambalaya, then you will want approximately eight ounces of tomato juice and about four tablespoons of cornstarch. You can alter the amounts based on how much cooked jambalaya you are trying to fix.
The tomato juice you buy can be any flavor and just about any brand that you can imagine. In fact, you should try to choose a tomato sauce that mixes well with the overall flavor profile of the jambalaya that you are planning on making.
For example, some types of tomato sauce will include clam in it, which can be perfect for jambalaya dishes that focus heavily on the seafood aspect.
Likewise, other flavored types of tomato sauce can get the job done as well. You will simply want to make sure that you are working with a tomato base, as jambalaya is commonly based on a tomato base as well, and this will help to bring the cornstarch into the jambalaya without altering the flavor, as it would if you tried to mix the cornstarch into water or another liquid.
The combination of tomato juice and cornstarch will work to help thicken the jambalaya up without altering the taste more than necessary, leaving you with a healthy and hearty dish of heavily flavored jambalaya to enjoy.
Fixing the Jambalaya
Now that you have all of the ingredients you need to fix the jambalaya, you will want to begin the process. You will want to start by putting the jambalaya in the crockpot or stockpot.
This method can work well for both homemade jambalaya that simply didn’t live up to your expectations, or store-bought jambalaya that you want to do a little bit of altering to.
The jambalaya will sit in the crockpot for the majority of the time, so you can place this out of the way while you work with the tomato sauce and the cornstarch.
It should still be within reach and easily accessible, but you will not need to worry about it all that much when you are first preparing everything that you will need to fix the dish with.
Next, you will want to turn the stove onto a low, simmering heat while you pour the tomato juice you purchased into a separate mixing bowl. Once the tomato juice has been poured into the bowl, you will want to begin whisking in the cornstarch.
If cornstarch doesn’t work for you, you can consider using another thickening agent; however, cornstarch is often the most effective and easiest to work with.
While most people commonly mix cornstarch into water or milk if they need a thicker sauce, doing this can drastically affect the appearance and taste of the jambalaya, and that is not the goal that you want to achieve.
By using the tomato juice as a base for the cornstarch, you will be able to mix it in without it being easily detectable as a separate ingredient, given the heavy use of tomatoes in typical jambalaya.
After the tomato juice and cornstarch have been successfully whisked together and they are evenly blended, you should begin to pour it into the jambalaya that should be sitting at a low and simmering heat.
You should then use a large spoon (either wooden or plastic) to stir the ingredients together so that the cornstarch-infused tomato juice can touch all parts of the jambalaya to help thicken it.
You should spend several minutes doing this to ensure a thorough mixture of ingredients, if you want to make the most out of thickening the jambalaya.
Now that the mixture has been thoroughly spread in the jambalaya dish, you will want to increase the heat to around a medium-high setting, while continuing to stir. You should keep stirring until you reach the thickness that you desire.
The amount of time that this will take will depend on how thin the jambalaya was to begin with, and how thick you want the end result to be.
When the jambalaya reaches your desired thickness, you should turn the heat off and remove the pot away from the heat immediately so that it does not continue to cook and thicken.
After the pot has been removed, you should cover the pot, let it sit for about five minutes or so to let everything settle down, and once that time has passed, your jambalaya should be fixed and ready to eat.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.